Deep breathing is an excellent and highly accessible way to manage stress and reduce the frequency and severity of hot flushes. During the menopause, equipping yourself with mind/body relaxation techniques is a far more natural and, in many cases, more effective alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
One particular breathing technique that has shown to be particularly effective across several scientific studies is the 5-5 breath.
1. Find a quiet space where you can sit comfortably and feel relaxed - preferably sitting up rather than lying down, as you want to stay awake.
2. Place your hands on your knees or on your belly and begin to inhale slowly into your belly for 5 seconds, then exhale slowly for 5 seconds. On your inhale, you should try to draw the breath into the bottom of your lungs - you'll feel your belly expand automatically. On an exhale, the belly contracts (draws back towards the core).
3. If your mind starts to wonder, notice your thoughts and return your focus back to the breath. It can be helpful to say to yourself 'thinking'.
4. Repeat every morning and evening for 10-15 minutes each session.
Consider the morning and evening sessions as your 'practice'. As with many holistic techniques, practice is a really important part of training and developing your toolbox. That way, when you feel a hot flush coming on during your day-to-day, you will have the confidence to use this same breathing technique to reduce your symptoms. Aim for 6-8 long and slow breaths - 5 seconds on the inhale, 5 seconds on the exhale.